Every once in awhile I will catch a post expressing disdain for Princesses. Whole blogs saying how princesses are a bad influence. comments from parents who say things like , “my girl is very into princesses but its okay because she also likes building things and capturing bugs.” I think most the posts and thoughts behind them send a bad message. Not allowing a child an interest in all things Princess is in essence telling your child that the feminine is lesser than the masculine. It’s like telling your child you love her but not that part of her. Or telling your child that it’s okay to dabble in girly things but only if they focus on the better more manly aspects of life.
Many times the hate on Princess is due to the hyper-sexualization of them and their influence on a kids body image and gender roles. I do feel its important to not put all a child’s worth on her looks or how feminine she is. I can see how, if the first thing you say to a girl revolves around her looks ( you look pretty in that dress, your hair is so cute) it can condition her to seek approval in just one area of herself. But I don’t think looks should be dismissed completely. I see nothing wrong with wanting to look and feel pretty. It’s perfectly natural, instinctual, and universal to most species of plant and animal. I see it as my responsibility to nurture my children as they are. Princess merchandise may send a negative body image and sexual message but as a parent I can be a stronger influence.
What I’m referring to is the hate of the femininity of princesses. Some objects, actions, and interests are more feminine and some more masculine. Sometimes things are considered more so because of shape- what looks more like a certain gender body part. Some things are more so based on a trait that is generally associated with a natural hormonal action such as the gentle caring of mother and her baby. Some are cultural (and really variable) such as Men being doctors and Women being teachers- it wasn’t long ago that healers were often women and teachers or mentors in a trade were more often men. Princesses are feminine. Being a princess goes beyond looks. They are gentle and caring. They are diplomatic and listen calmly. They always present themselves properly with beauty and grace. Princesses are feminine and to dislike that your child likes princesses is like saying you are disgusted by the part of her(or him) that is feminine. A part of your child that is just that, a part of her. And to dislike the femininity in a person is basically saying that it is lesser than the masculine.
I don’t want to act as if a child, boy or girl, is lesser because she(or he) has has strong feminine leanings. Both genders should be allowed to follow their interests and curiosity without being shamed. Feminine and Masculine may be different without being in competition. I don’t have issues with anyone having more of one trait than another. I feel that all the princess bashing is symptomatic of a society that has come to view the feminine has less than by elevating a woman (or a man) only when she does something masculine. Or demeaning a man (or a women) when he does something feminine. Many parents are extra proud if their girl children can swing a hammer, climb a tree, catch bugs and snakes, play with trucks, compete in sports, and find careers of high position. All because these are seen as better. If their boy children show an interest in sparkly dress up, caring for dolls or stuffies, playing house, or if they enjoy domestic skills and personal grooming, then they are encouraged to grow out of it or labelled with a feminine word (pussy, prissy, girly, or something more crude). It doesn’t matter which gender people still treat femininity it as if its lesser.
My goal is to encourage my kids to follow themselves without assigning them roles that could trap them or make them feel less than. Sometimes it takes breaking my own programming and habits. Yes, being a role model does need some in depth self-reflection and work. With conscious effort, hopefully I can help them see the value in both feminine and masculine qualities. That its perfectly okay to be interested or tend toward one over the other or both. That sometimes in life they will need a little more of one or the other and much of the time they can find a balance.